Florida State star quarterback cleared in sex assault probe

Thu Dec 5, 2013 3:36pm EST
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By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, considered the frontrunner for college football's prestigious Heisman Trophy, will not be charged with sexual assault in a case that had put a cloud over his season, a state prosecutor said on Thursday.

"We have a duty to only file those charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction," State Attorney Willie Meggs said at a standing room-only news conference. "We did not feel that we could meet that burden. We do not have sufficient evidence to make the charge."

Winston, 19, has led his team to the top of the national polls as a freshman while facing scrutiny over recently surfaced accusations that he assaulted a woman in December 2012, before his college playing career began.

Winston was accused by a Florida State University student who said she was raped after a night of drinking with friends at a bar near campus.

Meggs said the woman had "memory lapses on major issues." He said Winston declined to be interviewed, although he gave a DNA sample.

Winston's attorney, Timothy Jansen, was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. Jansen has said his client had only consensual sex with his accuser.

Meggs, who is the state prosecutor for six counties in northern Florida, said repeatedly that Winston's star status and the fanatic importance of FSU football in Florida's Big Bend area did not figure into his decision. "I have not been pressured, nor have I consulted the football schedule. We worked as fast as we could," he said.

The unidentified complainant, who has withdrawn from the university, said in a search warrant affidavit filed by Tallahassee police that she had a few drinks with friends at Potbelly's, a popular bar near campus, on December 7. Her friends left and she said she remembered getting into what she thought was a cab with a man who took her to an apartment and assaulted her.   Continued...

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) signs autographs for fans after the game against the Idaho Vandals at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports